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EU Commission proposes new Euro 7 emissions standard

Since September 2015, the EU emissions standard Euro 6 has regulated pollutant emissions. A new draft law by the EU Commission to tighten the limits in the form of the new Euro 7 emission standard is met with opposition from politics and industry. There is talk of a “ban on combustion engines through the back door”.

Many different regulations are used to make car traffic more environmentally friendly. One of them is the so-called emissions standard, a regulation of the European Union intended to limit the emission of pollutants by motor vehicles. The Euro 6 emissions standard is currently in force. In November 2022, the EU Commission brought the new Euro 7 emissions standard into play. This is to replace its predecessor in the near future and, according to the Commission's plan, will come into force for passenger cars from July 2025 and for heavy commercial vehicles from July 2027.

The fact that new regulations are relevant cannot be denied. According to estimates, 240,000 people died prematurely in the EU in 2020 from fine dust pollution alone. Emitted nitrogen oxides and ozone add another 70,000 people. City dwellers are particularly affected. The fine dust levels in cities are well above the guidelines of the World Health Organization (WHO). The new Euro-7 measures aim to reduce air pollution and also make a general contribution to climate protection.

Euro-7 requires extensive improvements

A greater reduction in pollutants is to be achieved through several measures. Euro 7 stipulates that the emission of ammonia - in addition to nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, particles and hydrocarbons - is limited for passenger cars. Ammonia is considered a key factor in the formation of smog in cities. In addition, emissions of formaldehyde and nitrous oxide are to be reduced for trucks.

The new draft law is also intended to standardize the previous emission regulations. Under the Euro 6 emissions standard, there were no uniform limit values for different drives. With Euro-7, the Commission wants to set fuel and technology-neutral values. In the field of nitrogen oxides, the maximum emissions limit for diesel cars will be reduced from 80 to 60 milligrams. Gasoline engines have had to adhere to this value since Euro 6. According to the EU Commission, emissions of nitrogen oxides from cars can be reduced by up to 35 percent by 2035. With larger vehicles such as buses and trucks, savings of up to 56 percent could even be achieved. At the same time, with the new rules, petrol engines must comply with the carbon monoxide limit for diesel cars and halve emissions to 500 milligrams.

In addition to the pollutants from the exhaust, the new law also provides for stricter regulation of particulate matter. Electric cars are also being targeted. Under Euro-7, the smallest particles, so-called ultra-fine dust particles, are to be limited. The limit value for the number of particles (PN) should in future also apply to particles with a size of up to 10 nanometers. So far, the limit has only been applied up to a size of 23 nanometers. That could lead to a 13 percent reduction in exhaust particulate matter from cars and 39 percent from buses and trucks. The formation of particles from braking could be reduced by up to 27 percent. In order to control the new regulations, the Commission proposes the installation of so-called onboard monitoring systems (OBM) in new cars. They should be able to detect excess emissions.

Vehicle manufacturers will also face longer periods of time in which the limit values must be observed. All vehicles that are less than ten years old or have driven less than 200,000 kilometers are required to follow the regulations. This is tantamount to doubling the durability requirements of Euro-6.

The new Euro-7 emissions standard also aims to ensure that the drive batteries are built to be more durable for e-cars. The storage capacity must not fall below 80 percent of the original value within five years of use or 100,000 kilometers driven. After eight years or 160,000 kilometers, 70 percent is the minimum storage capacity.

Criticism from industry and politics

The car industry has sharply criticized the Commission's proposal and speaks of a "ban on combustion engines through the back door". The federal states of Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg and Lower Saxony, all states with strong locations in the auto industry, have called on the federal government to reject the plans for the Euro 7 emissions standard. The new regulations could lead to job cuts, production losses and supply bottlenecks. German environmental aid, on the other hand, accuses the federal states of lobbying for car manufacturers.

Some automakers say that the schedule in particular is unrealistic. The short transition period would not be sufficient to develop vehicles with the new standards and to approve them in good time. Even Federal Environment Minister Steffi Lemke is critical of rapid implementation. The introduction should be feasible so that no jobs are lost. The draft law is experiencing further headwind with regard to the increase in vehicle prices. According to the Commission's calculations, there are additional costs of between 90 and 150 euros for cars. For heavy commercial vehicles, the price is expected to increase by as much as 2,700 euros. However, these figures are disputed. The Federal Ministry of Transport expects an increase of between 400 and 900 euros for passenger cars and between 2,500 and 4,000 euros for heavy commercial vehicles.

Whether the new standard will be enforced in its current form remains to be seen in the coming months. The EU countries and the European Parliament are currently discussing the proposed law. Buchbinder follows the process closely in order to be able to continuously adapt offers to changing market needs. As a result, new legal requirements are implemented in good time and customers always receive vehicles that are up to date.

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